Second street diet planned in Minot
Minot’s second street diet is on its way later this year.
The Minot City Council decided Tuesday to reconfigure the four lanes of Fourth Avenue Northwest between Broadway and 26th Street to create one lane in each direction, with a center turn lane and bike lanes along the shoulders.
The City Engineering Department proposed the lane reconfiguration along Fourth Avenue Northwest based on a review of historical traffic volumes, crash data and traffic operations. It also comes on the heels of a street diet on 16th Street from Fourth Avenue Northwest to Second Avenue Southwest.
“I would say it’s working as designed,” city traffic engineer Stephen Joersz said of the 16th Street changes. Although data is available only since the change last July, there have been no crashes since the street diet, he said.
He said Fourth Avenue is a great candidate for a street diet as well.
The Engineering Department reports a three-lane roadway can handle up to 18,000 vehicles a day, which is more than twice the traffic using Fourth Avenue currently. Daily traffic volumes are between 6,000 and 8,000 vehicles.
“In the past 20-30 years, traffic on Fourth Avenue has actually declined,” Joersz said. “There’s additional ways to get around Minot now, especially north and south. Fourth Avenue has transformed from a more commercial corridor to really a pedestrian and residential corridor.”
Fourth Avenue between 16th and 25th streets has experienced 19 crashes from 2017-2021, which is considered above the critical index. The Engineering Department cited the large number of left turns through that residential section as part of the reason and noted a four-lane roadway and offset streets add to the conflict points where vehicles diverge or cross. A center turn lane is proposed as the solution.
The intersection of Fourth Avenue and 16th Street has seen 26 crashes from 2017-2021, which city engineering staff attribute to signal timing and poor sight distance for left turns. New signal timing has helped, but a dedicated left-turn lane is needed, engineers reported.
The change could occur this year when the roadway is worked on as part of the 2023 street sealing project.
“It’s a big change. It’s a great change,” council member Carrie Evans said. The council voted 6-0 to support the street diet.
In other action, the council approved an ordinance on first reading to add right-turn restrictions at 23rd Street and 37th Avenue Southwest and southbound on South Broadway at Burdick Expressway. To improve pedestrian safety, right-turn signals would be red when pedestrian “walk” signs are engaged.
City staff are designing a complete traffic signal replacement at Broadway and Burdick that would include the restricted right-turn signal. With two crashes in recent months that took out signals at that intersection, city staff decided it is a good time to replace the entire system that was installed in 1989. The installation could occur this fall or the spring of 2024, Joersz said.
Free public parking in a downtown parking ramp went away in a new vote by the Minot City Council Tuesday.
The council reversed its action of two weeks ago when it approved free parking in the Renaissance ramp, next to the new city, beginning in April when city employees move into the renovated building. The decision to offer free parking to employees had been extended to free parking for all.
Since then, there have been concerns by downtown merchants about the fairness of free parking in the Renaissance ramp while charges will remain for businesses renting space in the Central ramp on Central Avenue. There also have been concerns about the loss of about $37,000 in revenue, which is used for ramp maintenance.
The council’s reversal leaves paid parking in place but still gives free parking to city hall employees.
“Our city employees at the airport already receive this benefit as well. So it really is just remaining consistent with that and maintaining the revenue that we currently receive,” council member Carrie Evans said.
“We’ve always provided parking for our employees,” council member Lisa Olson said, noting that public comments have been made that parking is the city employees’ responsibility.
“But it’s not. We are the employers,” Olson said. “It is our responsibility to provide parking.”
City Finance Director David Lakefield added the city has received clarification that because the financial benefit is limited, there is no federal tax liability for employees in receiving free parking.